British Battlefields is a destination marketing organisation, commercial business with the aim of promoting and develop tourism to Britain’s Battlefields and military heritage. Britain is not as well known as France, Belgium, South Africa or the USA for its battlefield heritage tourism. But it should be. We have many of the requirements to support more battlefield tourism, but these are not joined up in a way that potential customers can buy them. By bringing together destinations and services British Battlefields aims to make it easier for potential visitors to visit Britain’s military heritage.
Battlefield heritage tourism should be important to Britain. Tourism is our second largest export industry and a major source of employment. People visit Britain because of its heritage. Battlefields and military heritage is an under used resource. There are over five hundred battles sieges and skirmishes in England alone and hundreds more museums and preserved military heritage. British universities produce military historians and battlefield archaeologists in unrivalled numbers and quality. Volunteers from the Battlefields Trust and local battlefield societies run informative and entertaining walks. Throughout the year there are re-enactments and historic pageants across the country. But you would not know this if you read the tourist brochures about the country.
The main reason why battlefield heritage is largely invisible is because there is no funding. In the UK, funding for tourism is from the destinations, which favour those which already receive lots of tourists.
Much of Britain’s military heritage lacks much of what a visitor might expect from a destination. Many of Britain’s battlefields offer little for the visitor beyond a view of the landscape, unintelligible without expert interpretation. Few offer the basic facilities expected of any tourist destination. The travel trade isn’t really geared towards British military heritage either. The tour operators who specialise in battlefield travel and the guides they employ, tend to focus on the well established travel business to the battlefields of the world wars in Europe.
There are some glimpses of what might be possible. The millions of annual of visitors to the Imperial war Museums sites at Kennington, Duxford and HMS Belfast show that there is an appetite for military heritage. The success of the Bosworth Visitor Centre in Leicestershire shows that people do want to visit old battlefields and has brought significant benefits to the local economy. The rediscovery of Richard III’s grave has led to new battlefield tours offered by tour operators. The development of modern battlefields tourism in France and Belgium shows it is possible to stimulate demand and make a difference.
British Battlefields offers services which will address some of the problems and make it easier for visitors and the travel trade to know what is available and to provide the services that lead to enjoyable and informative visits to our heritage.
British Battlefields will offer a voice and raise awareness of what is available. We will promote destinations and services via our website, and targeted communications to the media. We will attend trade shows and provide an opportunity to showcase destinations and services.
We will help to design and promote products to tour operators and the public. Few battlefields can offer the interpretation provided by the Bosworth Visitor Centre. But we can bring together guides and re-enactors who can provide an exciting visitor experience. Similarly we can bring together guides, subject matter experts and museums or heritage centres that can provide a day or longer on a theme.
British Battlefields will offer opportunities for people who support battlefield heritage as a hobby to generate revenue for themselves and their causes.
We will facilitate the development of the skills needed to operate to a professional standard. We will provide training courses and access to other professional services.
If you are interested in making a difference please support British Battlefields by joining as a member.